Ice Coach and I exchanged looks. So that’s where the kid gets her bad attitude.
Indeed, according to a report by a team of researchers from the Universities of Missouri – St. Louis, Minnesota – Twin cities, and Notre Dame, researchers found that kids model their sportsmanship habits from their perceptions of their coach’s and parents’ behavior. And it doesn’t get better with age, either. Older kids are poorer sports than younger kids.
Later in the day, Ice Girl was skating her freeskate. The kid has an amazing straight-leg sit spin (she calls it spin-the-duck). It’s pretty cool.
After the event, Ice Coach told me that bad-attitude skater said while Ice Girl was spinning, “I hope she falls.”
It took my breath away.
I thought it might be a teachable moment for Ice Girl, you know, about sportsmanship. It turns out she was way ahead of me.
“Mom. No big deal. I’m fine.”
Well, I’m not. I’m on a tear and Ice Girl is completely uninterested in my preaching and ranting about bad-attitude skater.
So, I’ve been reading up on how not to create a monster. Here are some suggestions I’ve found:
- Develop the person first, the athlete second. That’s NCAA basketball coach John Wooden’s philosophy. “Coaching for character” is the primary responsibility of the coach. Coaching should emphasize successful character skills that have carry-over both on the ice and in life, Wooden said. Emphasize optimism, courage, patience, perseverance, effort, honesty, and responsibility.
- Don’t put pressure on your kid to be the best. Encourage your kid to love the sport and work hard.
- Be the person you’d like your kid to be. I’m not always good at this, but I try. I try not to be a sore loser when every man, woman, child, and dog beats me at any card or board game invented. I try not to be a poor winner, either. Of course, that so rarely happens that I’m too stunned to do a victory dance.
- Encourage hard work. This is from a cognitive scientist, but I think there’s carry over to sports. Daniel Willingham wrote, “Students who believe that intelligence can be improved with hard work get higher grades than students who believe that intelligence is an immutable trait.” When Ice Girl doesn’t do as well as she would like, I always tell her, “Just work harder.” Of course, she turns into a figure skating maniac before competitions and begs anyone who can drive to take her to walk-on ice. But, there are worse things than hard work.
- The best revenge is living well. Fine. I didn’t find this from any expert. This is my own naughty-ness, but I think it’s good advice. Concentrate on yourself and your own success. Don’t let the trolls and their tolls bring you down. Living well will shut them up, anyway.
Do you have a good tip about sportsmanship? Do you have experience with figure skating trolls? Feel free to share in the comments.
“Raising a good sport.” Scholastic Parent & Child. Feb/Mar 2007, Vol. 14, Issue 5.
Wellman, Chris. “Positive Coaching: A Guide to the Productive Teaching of Athletics.” Coach & Athletic Director. January 2007, vol. 76, Issue 6, p 97-08.
Willingham, Daniel T. Why Don’t Students Like School? Jossey-Bass. 2009, p. 140.
“Youth Sports.” Education Week. 12/12/2007, Vol. 27 Issue 15, p5.